Mar 31, 2011

Positive Thinking Vs Nam-myoho-renge-kyo

By Kathy Aitken from UKE January 1998

Look in any bookshop, anywhere, and the chances are you'll find a section devoted to 'self-help' titles. These shelves are the domains of the 'positive thinking' manuals - modern day guides to the business of living. Some of them are bestsellers. Each of these offerings has a slightly different slant, but closer examination will reveal common themes: how to develop self-esteem; how to cast off pessimism and start thinking 'big'; how to set goals and then achieve them; how to improve your relationships. The basic message running throughout is: change your thinking and you change your life. It's a laudable theory, but how far does it go?

In Buddhism, the workings of the mind are elucidated by the doctrine called the nine consciousnesses. The first five comprise 'the senses' - sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. It is through these that we have awareness of the world around us. The sixth is the conscious mind which processes the perceptions made by the five senses and translates them into judgements about the external world: "That is an orange." The seventh consciousness, sometimes called the mano-consciousness, equates to the unconscious mind of modern psychology, by dint of which we are able to ponder and reflect: "Because this is an orange it must be full of vitamin C and therefore be good for me."

The eighth level of consciousness is known as the karma storehouse, or alaya consciousness. It is here that the sum total of all our actions - the effects of causes made by thought, word and deed - is stored. This in turn gives rise to the blueprint of our individual lives, or karma, which carries within it the propensity for our own particular ways of thinking, speaking and doing to become ever more defined. 

Beyond this is the ninth consciousness, the Buddha state - the highest consciousness attainable and a boundless source of wisdom, compassion and courage. This state forms the basis of all spiritual functions and is also known as the amala-consciousness - amala meaning pure and undefiled -, which remains forever free from any karmic impurities. Nichiren Daishonin explains that we express this state by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
As can often be seen from the above explanation, all conscious thought - be it positive or negative - takes place at the sixth and seventh levels of consciousness. It follows, therefore, that even the most valiant of mental efforts to upgrade the quality of one's thinking will still be limited by the constraints imposed by one's karma. We cannot reach the deepest level of our inner selves by conscious thought. Although 'positive thinking' no doubt helps in developing various skills in life, we cannot change karma, the eighth consciousness, with our thoughts. 

Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon enables us to draw on the amala-consciousness, or as we more commonly call it, Buddhahood. 

When we do this, we are no longer at the mercy of the many distorted views, which are part and parcel of our karma; instead, we can see everything from a much broader perspective than has hitherto been possible. As Nichiren Daishonin so graphically expresses it:
"Fire can be produced by a stone taken from the bottom of a river, and a candle can light up a place that has been dark for billions of years. If even the most ordinary things of this world are such wonders, then how much more wondrous is the power of the Mystic Law." (MW, Vol.1, p. 223)

The fundamental purpose of practicing Buddhism is to reveal Buddhahood and to relieve the sufferings of others by sharing the Buddha's wisdom with them. It is not simply a means to achieve an improvement in one's personal circumstances. Buddhism concerns itself with the fundamental dynamic between ourselves and the rest of the universe, and maximizing the potential for creating happy, fulfilling lives within that dynamic. 

When we truly understand this, we gain sight of the bigger picture and are able to avoid the pitfall of becoming obsessed by our wishes and wants. Instead, we live in the knowledge that 'actual proof' in our circumstances will show itself as a natural result of our profound inner change.

In short, with the wisdom of the Buddha, we can see what actions needs to be taken and when to take it; with the courage of the Buddha we will take that action; and with the compassion of the Buddha, that action will encompass the greatest good for everybody and everything concerned.

True freedom is ours only when we act from a perspective free from karmic influences. By making this our prerogative through chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon, we begin to establish an inner core of unshakable happiness. Furthermore, we gain the conviction that we will, in this lifetime, overcome our negative karma, develop the attributes of the Buddha, and achieve the fulfillment of all our prayers.


Flowers Delivery in Delhi said...

Truly very post on Positive thinking..lovely!!

Seleus said...

You are very welcome!

Amipano said...

Keep on Posting! I know this information but it is so refreshing to have our minds refreshed while we are experiencing heavy karma and to remember why we chant! Mahalo��